People Property and Charity

The Clothworkers' Company 1500-1688

Crutched Friars

Thomasine Evans (d. 1596), widow, bequeathed property in Crutched Friars (in the parish of St. Katherine Coleman) to The Clothworkers’ Company. Her property at Crutched Friars comprised five tenements with sheds and gardens, all of which were leased at the time of the bequest to several tenants. From her bequest, Thomasine instructed the Company to choose eight poor widows of fifty years and above, who lived in the parish of St. Mary Abchurch, to receive one gown and a collar to the value of 20s.[1] This condition had to be fulfilled every two years. She gave further directions that the Company had to provide thirty sacks of coal to the poor people living in the parishes of St. Mary Abchurch and St. Katherine Coleman on the last day of October, 24 December, and ten days before Easter each year.[2] Thomasine instructed her executors that if the Company failed to fulfill these conditions, the bequest should become void and the properties transferred to the Drapers’ Company.

Following Thomasine’s death in 1596, the tenements at Crutched Friars transferred to The Clothworkers’ Company. In the immediate aftermath of this transfer, there appears to have been a challenge to the Company’s right to hold the properties. In July 1598, the Court Orders noted charges in relation to a suit ‘concerning the lands given by Mrs. Evanns, widow, deceased to the Company’.[3] The dispute appears to have been resolved quickly, aCrutched Friars, Treswell Survey, 1612s from this point onwards the Court Orders are full of references to the properties and the Company’s fulfillment of the charitable clauses attached to Evan’s bequest.[4] The Company regularly surveyed the tenements at Crutched Friars. One such survey in 1612 highlighted concerns relating to one of the Crutched Friars tenement. Mr. Osborne, a tenement there, had divided his tenement into two tenements. During their survey, the Company found significant defects in the work he had undertaken. Company viewers reported they had warned Osborne about the raising of the ‘groundsell at the east end of the said tenement which lies under the ground and rotes appeared and exposed the matter’.[5] Ralph Treswell described Osborne’s tenement in his survey in the same year. He described the property as consisting of ‘two tenements sometymes but one’, with a garret, two other chambers and a kitchen.[6]

The Company continued to direct the repairs and redesign of the Crutched Friars’ tenements through lease agreements. In 1625, the Company granted a lease of one of the tenements to Thomas Pemberton, for thirty-one years at an annual rent of £6. The Company attached both repair and rebuilding clauses to his lease, which stated that he had ‘to dig and make a vault under the whole yard of the messuage and erect and build a convenient lodging room and warehouse within the compass of the yard within three years’.[7] Similarly, in 1627, the Company granted a lease of a tenement at Crutched Friars to John Kiluer. The Court Orders noted that the Company reduced Kiluer’s fine by £3 6s. 8d. as he had purchased ‘wainscott and other fixtures for the property’.[8] The continued upkeep of the properties was a prime concern of the Company. In 1627, for example, they issued a warning to Christopher Eyans to repair his tenement at Crutched Friars ‘before the end of his tenure in two years, or to give it to the company’.[9]

In 1642, the Company entered into a dispute with one of their Crutched Friars’ tenants, Mr. Withers, regarding reparations that had been undertaken at his tenements.[10] Withers had a lease of two tenements and undertook repairs at the properties.[11] The Company engaged the city surveyor to view the repairs that had been undertaken and to advise on how to rectify the defects, which they had detected.[12] The Company agreed to assume responsibility for fixing the principals of the property, while they requested Mr. Withers to fix all the other repairs at his own cost.  The city surveyor was to act as a negotiator in these transactions. [13] Relations with Withers continued to be frosty in the aftermath of the dispute over the repairs. In July 1645, the Company undertook to both view and give permission for new repairs at Withers’ properties.[14] Also in 1645, for example, the Company called Withers to Court to pay £9 in rent for the houses at Crutched Friars.[15] Withers had hoped to receive some abatement of the rent, but the Company refused. He, in turn, refused to pay the rent and left the Court.[16]  By 1646, relations had thawed between both parties, with Withers seeking and receiving a new lease of the tenements.[17] The lease was offered for twenty-one years, at an annual rent of £3 and with a fine of £40. The only clause attached sought the surrender of his old lease.[18]

In 1646, the Company ordered the rebuilding of two tenements at Crutched Friars, which were rented to John Smith.[19] During the rebuild, the tenements were to be knocked together into one tenement. Under the terms of the rebuilding, the Company agreed that ‘Smith, to be given time to consider whether he will take a lease of both of them and give the company security for the new building of the same for and under such fine and rent, as thought fit’.[20] Other tenements at Crutched Friars appear to have been in various states of disrepair. In 1650, for example, William Blounte made suit to the Company for a lease of a tenement at Crutched Friars, which was described as ‘in decay, and needs to be rebuilt’.[21] In 1665, Nathaniel Withers again sought a new lease of his properties at Crutched Friars.[22] The Company offered him a thirty-one year lease, with the condition of spending £120 on rebuilding and repairing the two tenements entirely attached.[23]

The properties at Crutched Friars escaped the Great Fire of London in 1666. In the aftermath of the Fire, the Crutched Friars’ properties went through a period of relative stability. Perhaps, preoccupied with rebuilding elsewhere in the City, the Company continued to survey and lease the properties, generally to their long-term tenants. In 1681, for example, Mr. Parker received a new lease of his property for twenty-one years.[24] These years were to be added to those yet to run in his previous lease. In return, he promised to pay £4 annual rent and a £48 fine, along with all taxes, and 10s. to the Company poor box.[25]  The Clothworkers’ Company sold the properties at Crutched Friars in 1876.[26]

The Crutched Friars properties were noted extensively in the Company accounts. Taken at twenty year intervals the monies accrued from the property can be noted. In 1600, the annual rental income was £15, while £7 12s. was spent on repairs to the properties and annuities.[27]  In 1620, the annual rental income from Crutched Friars was £15, while £6 14s. was spent on annuities and repairs from the property rents.[28] By 1640, the annual income from Crutched Friars was £18, with the annual expenditure noted as £8 10s.[29] By 1660, the annual income was £21 with expenditure reaching £8.[30] By 1680, in the aftermath of the Great Fire, the Company were receiving £13 10s. from the Crutched Friars properties. Their annual expenses in this year amounted £8.[31]                                                                                                                                                                   


[1] Ibid.

[2] Ibid.

[3] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 180v, Dispute surrounding Mrs. Evan’s bequest, 10 July 1598.

[4] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 227r, Dispute between tenants at Crutched Friars, 5 July 1603.

[5] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 106v, Viewers issue a warning to Osborne regarding repairs, 17 March 1612.

[6] CCA, Treswell Survey, 1612.

[7] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, f. 24r, Pemberton’s lease, 16 February 1625.

[8] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, f. 56v, Abatement of fine granted to Kiluer, 13 June 1627.

[9] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, f. 61v, Warning to Eyans, 10 October 1627.

[10] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, f. 64r, City surveyor to assess repairs undertaken at Crutched Friars, 5 July 1642.

[11]  Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, f. 115r, Repairs at Withers’ properties, 9 July 1645.

[15] CCA, Court Orders, CL/1/8, f. 129v, Withers seeks abatement of rent, 15 October 1645.

[16] Ibid.

[17] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, ff 151r-151v, Lease to Withers, 5 October 1646.

[18] Ibid.

[19] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, f. 140v, Rebuilding at Crutched Friars, 28 April 1646,

[20] Ibid.

[21] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, ff 214v-215r, Suit by William Blounte, 26 February 1650.

[22] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/9, f. 282r, Lease to Withers, 7 March 1665.

[23] Ibid.

[24] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 564, Lease to Mr. Parker, 24 March 1681.

[25] Ibid.

[26] A. Buchanan, ‘The Sources of the Wealth of The Clothworkers’ Company’, unpublished paper.

[27] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/4, Section 6, The Renter Warden accounts of Anthony Fawlkes, 1600, f. 3r and f. 7r.

[28] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/5, Section 16, The Renter Warden accounts of Daniel Hall, 1620, f. 5r and 10r.

[29] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/8, Section 4, The Renter Warden accounts of William Harris, 1640, f. 7r and f. 11v.

[30] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/10, The Renter Warden accounts of Dennis Gawden, 1660, f. 3 and f. 12.

[31] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/12, The Renter Warden accounts of Robert Stevenson, 1680, f.3 and f. 10. The income figures cannot be accurately calculated due to damage to the originals.